Over the past few years, there has been a significant shift in the laundry market. More and more people are trading in their traditional washing machines for high-efficiency (HE) washers.
These HE washers use less water to clean clothes, thus reducing the cost of laundering garments. Due to these savings, many people have both a washer and a dryer in their home, or just invest in a cheaper dryer because the cost of using it is so much less.
With both washers and dryers becoming less expensive, there will soon be a drop in demand for both machines as people acquire them together. How will this affect the laundry industry?
There will be a larger supply of washed clothes due to the lower cost of the washers, meaning that there will be more clothes per machine. Therefore, there will be an increase in the number of machines needed to handle the volume of laundry.
People do not always line dry their clothes
A major reason people do not line dry their clothes is because they are not willing to put in the time to let their clothes dry. It can take several days for some clothes to fully dry depending on the material and weather conditions.
Many people have limited free time and would rather spend that time doing something else. For example, most people have jobs that require at least eight hours of work each day, so spending additional time drying clothes would be an extra burden.
This is a strong social barrier as well. Most people do not want to hang their clothes outside to dry for all of their neighbors and passersby to see. This can lead to people hiding their laundry, using indoor drying machines, or having no choice but to use one due to time constraints.
The cost of electricity is also a factor in why people do not line dry. To ensure that the cost does not exceed that of an indoor machine, people must calculate how many hours it will take for the laundry to dry.
Some people might switch to line drying
As mentioned before, a major reason for the continued use of dryers is convenience. People like having their clothes quickly dried so that they can get back to their busy lives.
However, with the increasing cost of energy, this source of convenience may become more costly in the long run.
If the cost of electricity continues to rise, then people will start to think more about how they can reduce their consumption of it. One way that has already begun is the growing movement of line drying clothes.
As more and more people become aware of the environmental impact of electric consumption, we might see an increase in the number of people line drying their clothes. This will eventually cause the demand for dryers to drop as people switch to line drying.
Dryers are more energy efficient than washers
A second reason why the drop in price for washing machines could lead to a drop in the demand for dryers is that dryers are more energy efficient than washers.
In general, newer models of any appliance tend to be more energy efficient than older models. This is because manufacturers are constantly trying to make their products more efficient.
Currently, top-load washing machines use about 2 kWh per load, whereas front-load washing machines use about 1 kWh per load. Compared with top-load washers, front-load washers also take about two hours less time to complete a cycle.
As the cost of electricity varies by location, this article provides approximate prices of electricity by type (kWh) to help gauge the cost savings from using more energy efficient appliances.
Dryers are less water intensive than washers
A related development in the industry is the increased availability of dryers that use less energy to dry clothes. As with washers, there is already a drop in price for these devices due to innovation.
Dryers have always had the ability to use less heat to dry clothes; the technology has been there for years. Now, more modern dryers are able to detect when the clothes are dry and stop the heating process sooner.
By having both a washer and a drier in your home, you will use less water overall due to the difference in what must be eliminated. Even having just a drier can help decrease your water usage!
Having both devices at an affordable price will help more people get into cleaning their clothes effectively without wasting water. This will then ripple out to more people choosing between a washer or a drier, or buying one at all.
Price affects demand
As we discussed earlier, price is a significant factor in the demand for any product. When the price of a product goes down, more people can afford it and demand will increase.
In this case, as washing machines become less expensive, people will be more likely to buy them. As they use them more often, they will need to dry their clothes and that will increase the demand for dryers.
Interestingly, the opposite could also occur. As washing machines become less expensive, people may decide they no longer need to invest in a dryer since their machine can dry the clothes sufficiently.
This would then reduce the demand for dryers over time! It all depends on how much people use their drying function on the machine.
General trends show that consumers are buying more and more compact appliances to save space in their homes. This may eventually affect the demand for heavy duty appliances such as dryers.
Households have fewer dollars per person
A major reason why the demand for dryers will decrease is that the average income of American households is going down.
As mentioned before, manufacturing jobs are declining, and this is true across industry sectors. As technology improves, machines become more efficient, and companies invest in more efficient machinery, jobs are lost.
A study by the University of Maassachusetts Amherst found that nearly half of all American jobs are at risk of being replaced by automation within the next decade.
The drop in income means that households have less money to spend overall, and one way this will play out is that there will be fewer married couples living alone. Couples will opt to live together instead, sharing space and costs.
This will affect the demand for washing machines specifically because there will be less people living alone who need their own washing machine.
Older people might need dryers for health reasons
Another interesting point the author makes is that older people might need dryers for health reasons. As we age, our bodies function less and less well.
One way this is demonstrated is that we take longer to dry off after getting wet. As a result, we get cold and sick.
If washing machines become very cheap, then seniors could buy their own to use in tandem with their washing machine. This would help with the drying process and prevent sickness due to wet clothing.
The price of dryers might go down if more people are buying cheaper washers, but the demand might actually increase due to the health factor mentioned above.
Young people might not care about the environment as much as older people do
Another possible reason for the decline in demand for dryers is that younger people might not care about the environment as much as older people do.
As generations change and kids grow up, their priorities and interests change too. Many young people today are very interested in technology and spending less time doing things like washing clothes.
They might opt for a washer-dryer combo machine or just use the washer to dry the clothes instead, which would reduce the need for a separate dryer.
A drop in price for washing machines may also cause fewer people to buy them, as they might decide it’s not worth it to spend money on one when they can just hang out their clothes to dry them.
However, this might cause problems in the long run, since fewer people will be aware of climate change and environmental issues.